Impending Barlow return a boost for Freo - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Impending Barlow return a boost for Freo

By Justin Chadwick 25/05/2011 05:22:02 PM Comments (0)

Gun Fremantle midfielder Michael Barlow is on track to return via the WAFL within a fortnight, gifting the Dockers a timely morale booster ahead of a season-defining month.

Barlow, who broke his left leg in sickening fashion against Port Adelaide in round 14 last year, will join in at full training over the next week or so to try to prove his fitness for Peel Thunder's clash with Perth in Mandurah on June 4.

But despite Fremantle's heavy injury toll, Barlow won't be rushed back into AFL ranks anytime soon, with a return after the Dockers' round-16 bye a possible outcome.

"He will train, probably fully tonight," Fremantle coach Mark Harvey said on Wednesday.

"I would expect that, nothing going wrong over the next week and a half, that he plays down there at Peel Thunder.

"We'll just ease him in, though.

"He's going to need at least three or four or five weeks (before he can push for an AFL recall) and we'll be able to tell by the way he's playing as to how long that either takes for him to get back in the team, or whether we need to play him longer at WAFL level."

The Dockers (5-3) are just two points adrift of fourth spot but face a tricky month with games against St Kilda (home), Hawthorn (away), Essendon (home) and Melbourne (away).

And with Barlow, ruckman Aaron Sandilands (toe), Roger Hayden (foot), Alex Silvagni (groin), Nick Suban (leg) and Adam McPhee (knee) all still injured, Harvey hoped his charges could hang tough until the reinforcements arrived.

"That'll be the strength of the team moving forward, if we can sustain things under this regime at the moment," Harvey said.

"Somewhere around the break that we have in five or six weeks' time, I'd like to think that we can get most of our guys back by that time.

"It'll be an interesting phase if we're within striking distance."

Former Adelaide big man Jonathon Griffin faces a massive challenge to fill in for the injured Sandilands in Saturday's clash with St Kilda at Patersons Stadium.

Fremantle had lost their previous five games in which Sandilands had missed, but Harvey said his group were now better equipped to deal without the 211cm giant's presence.

"Individually, Aaron's probably got better over the last couple of years, but I think the team's more equipped (to be able to cope without him)," Harvey said.

"It changes a few things (for the midfield group with Sandilands not there).

"Firstly, it changes their observation of where the ball's going to be hit, or where they think it's going to be hit.

"So they need to concentrate a little bit more on the opposition ruckman and watch the ball up or the throw-in a little more closer than they normally would, rather than just expect it going to be put in a certain position.

"So that certainly changes that mindset. So, yeah, we've spoken to our midfield about that already."

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